Nutro vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food

Nutro vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food (2024)

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In this comparison, we’ll look at Nutro vs Blue Buffalo dog food. We’ve compared quality of ingredients, nutritional information, and value for money to give our verdict on which one we think is best between Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult and Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free.

Comparing Nutro vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food

All of our dog food suggestions are carefully selected by professionals. We extensively research the products to check if they’ve been approved by governing bodies before making recommendations. You can read more about our stringent review standards here. And remember, always consult your veterinarian first, before changing your dog’s food.

  • Top 5 Ingredients
  • Type
  • Lifestage
  • Calories
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Cost
  • Our score

What’s the Best Dog Food?

Nutro vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials, a diet produced by a company known as Nutro Products Inc, is a food of great quality that families can feel good about feeding their beloved dog. Nutro Products Inc is based in the United States and has been manufacturing exceptional foods for dogs to enjoy for over 90 years.

Though Nutro Products Inc has been in business for nearly a century, they have only ever been subject to two food recalls; one in 2009 and the other in 2015.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a carefully prepared holistic diet that hits all the high points adult dogs need from their food to enjoy excellent health. A company that traces its roots to the United States at the turn of the century, Blue Buffalo places a high emphasis on the development of food products of exceptional quality that are founded on the healthiest whole foods, sourced locally whenever possible.

Blue Buffalo applies its focus to a holistic product line. The company was founded when its owners discovered their Airedale Terrier “Blue” was suffering from cancer, and they wanted to create a diet to help his body fight the effects of the disease.

From 2010-2017, there have been six different recalls on Blue Buffalo’s foods. Some of these have been voluntary when the company became aware of possible contamination of certain food lines. Since 2017, Blue Buffalo has not had any issues or formal consumer complaints about its products.


Nutro Ingredients

With two such excellent foods to choose from, families can’t go wrong by selecting either Nutro Wholesome Essentials or Blue Buffalo Wilderness for their adult dogs. Nutro Wholesome Essentials is a grain-inclusive formulation, making it best suited to dogs that do not suffer from allergies or sensitive stomachs.

The primary ingredient in Nutro Wholesome Essentials is whole chicken. This powerhouse meat is closely followed by the addition of chicken meal, a dense and nutrient-rich protein to provide all of the vital amino acids dogs need to develop and maintain strong and healthy muscles.

A food proudly made in the United States, Nutro Wholesome Essentials includes both glucosamine and chondroitin in its formulation to support optimal joint health. In addition to this, all Nutro foods are free from by-products, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial ingredients, making them an excellent choice for dogs with sensitivities to these items.

The whole grains added to this high-quality food include such ingredients as oatmeal, brown rice, and barley. The oatmeal, found in its ground form in this diet, is an excellent source of dietary fiber and is also gluten-free, ensuring it is easily digestible.

Though brown rice is a carbohydrate that dogs can easily process and utilize, it is of low value and offers little nutritional value to dogs. Similarly, barley contributes vital dietary fiber; however, its health benefits are minimal. Still both of these grains can assist with maintaining fluid digestive processes, an important component of every diet.

Peas, an ingredient considered to be both a protein and a starch, form a significant part of this Nutro food. While the dietary fiber in this vegetable is beneficial, the protein count in this food can partially be attributed to peas, meaning the amount of meat included in the formulation is significantly less than the overall 22 percent listed on the bag.

Lamb meal has also been included in this Nutro formulation. Though present to a lesser degree than other proteins in this recipe, lamb can be a common allergen for many dogs. This reinforces the concept that for dogs with sensitive skin, stomachs, or sensitivities to foods that this particular Nutro offering is not optimal for them.

Healthy fats can be found in the inclusion of chicken fat. Chicken fat is an excellent source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids also support the energy levels of adult dogs.

Other ingredients worth noting in this recipe include flaxseed, taurine, and selenium yeast. Flaxseed enriches this food with valuable soluble fiber to promote healthy digestion. It is also an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. Flaxseed is a protein, and thus as with peas, also brings the total amount of meat included in this recipe into question.

Since many dogs, particularly large breeds, can be prone to heart issues and traditional dry kibbles can be lacking in this nutrient, taurine has been supplemented in Nutro Wholesome Essentials. The addition of selenium yeast provides dogs with the immune system boost they need to keep potent diseases such as cancer at bay.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials has also included chelated minerals in their formulation. Chelated minerals are vitamins and nutrients that adhere to proteins for ease of absorption, thus ensuring dogs get the maximum benefits from them.

There are two key negatives to consider in this Nutro food offering. It does not include a probiotic, something that is recommended by canine nutritionists to support the development of healthy gut flora. The second drawback to Nutro Wholesome Essentials is its focus on beet pulp, a controversial ingredient believed to function as an inexpensive filler food with limited nutritional value for dogs. Other veterinary professionals maintain that beet pulp may play a role in stabilizing blood sugar and promoting strong intestinal health through its rich dietary fiber.

Blue Buffalo Ingredients

Blue Buffalo Wilderness differs from Nutro Wholesome Essentials in one very important way: its recipe is entirely free from grains. This one factor makes it well worth considering for dogs that suffer from sensitivities to these types of ingredients.

This particular Blue Buffalo food is greatly praised for its heavy emphasis on proteins, ensuring the diet is rich in amino acids to support the adult dog’s health and development. Like Nutro Wholesome Essentials, this food takes its protein from whole chicken and chicken meal, an excellent quality source that is rich in nutrients.

Another characteristic Blue Buffalo shares in common with Nutro is each of its recipes, including this one, are free from common allergens and low quality ingredients such as by-products, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. To support excellent joint health, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids have been enriched.

A proprietary element to all Blue Buffalo foods is the inclusion of LifeSource Bits, a powerful blend of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins to promote healthy immunity.

Though Blue Buffalo earns top marks for its protein-rich formula; unfortunately, it includes three pea-based ingredients which significantly impact the amount protein that is actually derived from meat, shifting the balance of this food. Blue Buffalo lists pea protein, pea fiber, and pea starch as playing a large role in the overall food formulation, ingredients that are high in dietary fiber but that offer little nutritional value.

Tapioca starch has also been included in this diet, earning a place as the fifth ingredient in the food. Tapioca starch is derived from the cassava root and acts as a binder. Its health benefits are questionable though it is a gluten-free product.

Several other ingredients are worthy of further study including tomato pomace, flaxseed, chicken fat, chicory root, dried yeast, alfalfa meal, and chelated minerals. Tomato pomace is the subject of controversy with some nutritionists believing it is a low quality filler while others maintain its high fiber content and dense nutritional profile makes it beneficial to dogs.

Flaxseed contributes vital soluble fiber to support good digestion. It is also an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids to promote joint health. It is, however, high in protein, another ingredient which lessens the percentage of meat found within the overall diet.

Chicken fat contributes both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well as linoleic acid. These powerhouse nutrients encourage good skin and coat quality and also provide dogs with the energy they need to remain active and well.

The addition of chicory root ensures additional soluble fiber. But chicory root is far more than simply an effective digestive aid. It is also a powerful prebiotic that supports the development of healthy gut flora.

Chelated minerals, minerals attached to protein strands for easy absorption, have been included to ensure dogs receive all of the daily nutrients they require for wellness. Alfalfa meal, a high fiber ingredient, boosts the natural vitamin and mineral content of the food organically.

Dried yeast, an ingredient that seems out of place in a dog food, is believed to help repel fleas naturally while also encouraging the development of a strong and healthy immune system.

Nutritional Value

When considering nutritional value, it is easy to see that both of these foods have the potential to help adult dogs maintain excellent health. Nutro Wholesome Essentials contains 22 percent protein, 14 percent fat, and 3.5 percent fiber to Blue Buffalo’s 34 percent protein, 15 percent fat, and 6 percent dietary fiber. While both foods are well balanced, the fact that both diets do derive some of their protein from plant-based sources does significantly impact the overall amounts of meat found in these foods.

Plant-based proteins can be difficult for dogs to digest. In addition to this, many of them are common allergens for dogs. Since both foods do include peas, it is important to note the negative effects this starchy vegetable can have on fertility, meaning these foods may not be optimal for breeding dogs.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials is lower calorie at only 339 calories per cup. This makes this diet a very good choice for dogs in need of losing some weight or who are in their senior years.

By comparison, Blue Buffalo’s higher protein recipe rings in at 409 calories per one cup serving size. This food is not recommended for dogs that are sedentary or overweight, being best suited to dogs with moderate to high activity levels. Its high caloric count does mean the food will stretch farther, thus maximizing each family’s dog food dollar.

Both diets are an excellent choice for adult dogs. However, the specific needs of each dog will determine which food is the better nutritional fit.


Even the most nutritionally packed food is of no benefit if the taste is so poor that dogs don’t want to eat it. That’s why it is important to consider the flavor profile of a food in addition to its ingredients and potential health benefits.

Both foods offer a powerhouse punch of flavor with their heavy emphasis on chicken and chicken meal. While Blue Buffalo includes a healthy portion of peas to round out its protein content, Nutro includes a serving of lamb meal to increase its palatability and interest level for dogs.

Chicken fat is also an important ingredient, adding to the flavor of each of the foods significantly.

There is one drawback to Blue Buffalo in the battle for top taste: its LIfeSource Bits, the powerful antioxidants blend, is off-putting to some dogs. As a result, these pieces of kibble are often picked out or set aside, meaning the dog loses the nutritional benefits contained within them.

Both foods are reported to be equally attractive to dogs, making this contest a draw.

Best Suited For

While both foods are good all around choices for dogs due to their excellent balance of vital nutrients for optimal health, Nutro reigns supreme for dogs that require a little less “oomph” from their food in order to achieve weight loss or fuel a more leisurely lifestyle. Nutro Wholesome Essentials would also be a very good selection for senior dogs or those who are more sedentary than they used to be.

Because Blue Buffalo Wilderness is much higher in protein, it is a diet that is best reserved for active dogs. It is not well suited to overweight pooches or to those that only exercise minimally. Its protein count is also too high for the delicate digestive system of aging dogs.

For dogs with allergies to grains, Blue Buffalo is the better choice of the two foods.

Helpful for Health Conditions?

Though neither food has been developed to address any specific health concerns, Nutro Wholesome Essentials is best for dogs in need of weight loss while Blue Buffalo Wilderness takes top marks for dogs suffering from allergies as well as for dogs that lead very active lifestyles

Value for Money

Both of these foods offer excellent nutritional value at modest prices. Blue Buffalo Wilderness is slightly more expensive; however, its high calorie count means the food itself will stretch a little further; perhaps making it the most cost effective option for families with adult dogs.


There is no question that both Nutro Wholesome Essentials and Blue Buffalo Wilderness offer all of the high quality nutrition dogs need to thrive. However, in our final comparison, we determined that the best overall diet is Blue Buffalo Wilderness. This particular product line is grain-free, making it well-suited to dogs with skin or stomach sensitivities, a significant bonus.

It is also rich in natural prebiotics and probiotics to support optimal digestion. Blue Buffalo’s emphasis  on holistic ingredients, sourced locally whenever possible, makes its nutritional profile dense to support optimal health.

The main drawback to this food is its heavy emphasis on pea-based proteins, ingredients which can trigger fertility issues in breeding dogs.

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